State govt’s call, Sabah MCA insists in spat over quarantine centres

Quarantine facilities at the Likas Sports Complex in Kota Kinabalu.

PETALING JAYA: Sabah MCA women’s chief Pamela Yong has maintained her stand that initiatives to manage the Covid-19 crisis in East Malaysia fall under the purview of state security councils in the continuing spat over the condition of quarantine centres there.

Responding to the parliamentary researcher of Kota Kinabalu MP Chan Foong Hin who had said that all quarantine centres are gazetted and staffed by Putrajaya, she said in Sabah and Sarawak, such efforts are coordinated by the state.

In Sabah, she added, the state security council is led by Chief Minister Shafie Apdal.

“Ultimately, it means that any federal initiatives, such as the proposal to establish back-up quarantine centres to local hospitals, would in all likelihood have been proposed and advised by the state.

“The federal government would have merely given the resources at its disposal.”

Yong had raised the issue last Friday, citing complaints from students on social media about the poor conditions of quarantine centres they had been placed in.

She said some of their grouses included frequent water disruptions, an initial unavailability of hand soap dispensers in toilets, poorly maintained toilets, and no regular cleaning or disinfecting of the centres.

She named several leaders including Chan, urging him to drop by the Likas Sports Complex, one of the centres about which complaints had been made.

In her latest statement, she said the proposal to use the complex would have been discussed by the state security council before implementation.

In fact, she added, Shafie had said at the state assembly on April 20 that the quarantine centre at the complex was suggested and set up by the Sabah government.

“If use of the Likas Sports Complex or any facility as quarantine centre in the state were not suitable, why would the state have suggested it in the first place?”

She also accused Chan’s researcher, John Wong, of choosing to play “political football” by saying that the state health department is a federal office.

Wong had acknowledged that the quarantine centre at the Likas complex was suggested and set up by the state government.

However, he said the decision to use it as such lay with the federal government. He also said the main federal authority in charge of Covid-19 management and implementation of the movement control order was the health ministry.

He said Yong should have reprimanded the health minister instead of “barking up the wrong tree”.

However, Yong today cited remarks by a state minister on the sum spent by the Sabah government to upgrade the Likas Sports Complex.

She said Frankie Poon, the minister of health and people’s wellbeing, stated that Sabah had spent RM2 million on upgrade and maintenance works.

She added that the sum, according to Poon, was meant to qualify the complex as a Covid-19 facility before the decision to designate it as a quarantine centre in May.

She said Poon had also revealed the state government’s role in in the initial planning, preparation, organisation and coordination during the Covid-19 crisis.

“So if what Poon is saying is true, am I not right to pose the questions to the state government as to why the sinks and toilets are blocked and flooded, creating an unhygienic environment?

“And would I not be right to seek clarification as to why the centre is in such a dire state when so much was claimed by minister Poon to have been spent for the planning and preparation of the Likas Sports Complex as a Covid-19 facility?”

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